from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To provide work to (someone) for pay.
  • transitive verb To engage the attention or activity of; occupy.
  • transitive verb To put (something) to use or service.
  • transitive verb To devote (time, for example) to an activity or purpose.
  • noun The state of being employed.
  • noun Archaic An occupation.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To inclose; infold.
  • To give occupation to; make use of the time, attention, or labor of; keep busy or at work; use as an agent.
  • To make use of as an instrument or means; apply to any purpose: as, to employ medicines in curing diseases.
  • To occupy; use; apply or devote to an object; pass in occupation: as, to employ an hour, a day, or a week; to employ one's life.
  • Synonyms Employ, Hire. Hire and employ are words of different meaning. To hire is to engage in service for wages. The word does not imply dignity; it is not customary to speak of hiring a teacher or a pastor; we hire a man for wages; we employ him for wages or a salary. To employ is thus a word of wider signification. A man hired to labor is employed, but a man may be employed in a work who is not hired; yet the presumption is that the one employing pays. Employ expresses continuous occupation more often than hire does.
  • noun Occupation; employment.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun That which engages or occupies a person; fixed or regular service or business; employment.
  • noun in one's service.
  • transitive verb obsolete To inclose; to infold.
  • transitive verb To use; to have in service; to cause to be engaged in doing something; -- often followed by in, about, on, or upon, and sometimes by to; as: (a) To make use of, as an instrument, a means, a material, etc., for a specific purpose; to apply
  • transitive verb To occupy; as, to employ time in study.
  • transitive verb To have or keep at work; to give employment or occupation to; to intrust with some duty or behest.
  • transitive verb to apply or devote one's time and attention; to busy one's self.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The state of being an employee; employment.
  • verb to hire (somebody for work or a job)
  • verb to use (a person for a job)
  • verb to make busy

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb put into service; make work or employ for a particular purpose or for its inherent or natural purpose
  • noun the state of being employed or having a job
  • verb engage or hire for work


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English emploien, from Old French emploier, from Latin implicāre, to involve : in-, in; see en– + plicāre, to fold; see plek- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle French employer, from Latin implicare ("to infold, involve, engage"), from in ("in") + plicare ("to fold"). Compare imply and implicate, which are doublets of employ .


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